Lancaster – and much of the Eastern US – is in the midst of a heat wave. Temperatures are in the high nineties and the heat index makes every day this week feel like it is above 100 degrees! The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting highs of 90 or above from the East Coast to the Plains Wednesday and Thursday. Thunderstorms on Friday are expected to bring about some relief.
The heat wave can put an extra strain on utility companies, like PPL Electric Utilities. The utility expects that the public’s power usage could exceed last summer’s peak of 7,182 megawatts, which was set on 18 July 2012. The combination of the excessive heat and the significantly higher electric usage can stress electrical equipment. Power supplies are adequate though to meet projected demand in the mid-Atlantic region, predicts PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator.
“Our ongoing maintenance programs, coupled with more than 40 reliability improvement projects completed this spring across our service area, mean customers can depend on us as they always have for safe and reliable power,” said Dave Bonenberger, vice president of Distribution Operations for the utility.
Tips to save energy and keep your electric bill manageable:
• Close window drapes and shades during the heat of the day to block the hot sun.
• Wear light clothing and set the thermostat temperature between 76 and 78 degrees. • When temperatures rise above 90 degrees, PPL recommends setting the thermostat at a minimum of 75 degrees.
• Avoid using, or at least minimize the use of, heat-generating appliances during the warmest part of the day. This includes the dishwasher, stove, washer and dryer
• Ceiling fans are a wonderfully economical way to circulate the air. It is less expensive to move air than to cool it.
• Keep the filters on the air conditioner filters clean. Be sure air vents are not blocked by objects, including furniture.
While PPL is confidant the utility will be able to keep up with its 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania, one should always prepare for potential blackouts. In the event of a power outage, there are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Never run a generator inside the home.
- Never attempt to heat your house with a gas stove or range.
- Unplug any sensitive electronics, such as your stereo or computer, that may take damage from a sudden power surge once the electric does come back on.
- Use surge protectors for your electronics.
The health of you and your family should always be your first and foremost concern. The heat can cause heat cramps, exhaustion, strokes, and even fatalities. Taking precautions may save you a trip to the emergency room later. There are certain people who are more susceptible to developing a heat illness than others. They are children, the elderly and obese people. Sometimes certain medications may make a person more susceptible as well.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration is one cause of heat illness, as is alcohol use. Therefore, limit or avoid alcohol use when it is excessively hot. Excessive exercise is another culprit. Instead of an afternoon run, try running – or whatever your exercise of choice is – in the morning before the heat of the day. Other causes of heat illness are: heart disease, high humidity, sweat gland problems, and too much clothing.
Know the symptoms of heat illness:
- Profuse sweating
- Extreme thirst – drink Gatorade
- Muscle cramps
- A feeling of lightheadedness
- A general feeling of weakness
- Feeling nauseated or actually vomiting
- Skin is cool and moist
- Dark urine
The symptoms of heat stroke are more intense. They can include a high fever, irrational behavior, a confused state, skin is dry and hot no longer cool and moist, red skin, breathing is rapid and shallow, pulse is also rapid, seizures and unconsciousness. If you or you see someone experiencing these symptoms, err on the side of caution. Do not underestimate the severity of the situation.
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